Residents on the Aran Islands have welcomed a new five-year contract, that will guarantee daily ferry services to each of the three islands. 

Details of the Public Service Obligation contract were announced by the Department of the Gaeltacht.  

The contract with Aran Ferries Teo comes into effect tomorrow and will run until November 2022.

Costing almost €6 million, the agreement will see morning and evening services between Ros a' Mhíl and Inis Mór, Inis Meáin and Inis Oírr.

Bus services between Ros a' Mhíl and Galway city are also included in the contract. 

As part of the deal, the price of a return fare for islanders will be capped at €10. This represents a reduction on the existing €15 fare for residents of Inis Mór. 

Negotiations on the service have been ongoing for several months.

Department representatives met with islanders to gauge their views and requirements. 

Paddy Crowe, manager of Cómhar Caomhán Teo, the Inis Oirr co-operative, said he was pleased that additional services were being provided on Sunday afternoons from May to September.

He said this was part of what had been sought by islanders and would make weekend travel easier. 

Mr Crowe said the five-year agreement would give residents some reassurance that they would not face a continual battle to ensure they had daily connections to the mainland. 

In recent years, the provision of transport services to and from the islands have caused concern.

A long-running row between the ferry operator and Galway County Council led to threats that services to Inis Mór would be suspended last year.  

In 2015, residents were told operations between Ros a' Mhíl and Cill Rónáin would cease. That came after Island Ferries lost a Supreme Court Appeal against passenger levies imposed by Galway County Council. 

The council imposed an 80 cent charge on tourists landing on the island, along with an annual charge of €5 for residents. 

The local authority voted to introduce the charge in 2012, following an extensive redevelopment of the harbour, costing almost €50 million.